Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney | Minor Offenses
There is an increasing number of individuals who are being arrested for violations of the law often referred to as “quality of life” crimes. Generally these types of offenses (or this category of crimes) are low-level violations carrying only minor possible sentence – though there are exceptions. Do not be fooled: minor offenses deserve the same dedication, intellectual prowess, and ability to defend your rights as do serious offenses!!! In fact, many people end up with greater consequences to their life and liberty (and consequently punishing those they care about) because of a repeated minor offense – not because of one serious offense.
In Minnesota, some of these offenses involve prostitution, graffiti, thefts, minor drug possession cases, disorderly conduct, loitering, loitering with the intent to solicit a prostitute, loitering with the intent to solicit drugs, etc. These types of offenses may at times go unnoticed by those within a certain community, but at the same time, these types of offenses can often have a very detrimental and adverse effect on the community around us, and we often never realize it. And it’s not because of what you may think. It’s not because of the impact on the community because of the alleged perpetrator’s actions; rather, it’s the wasted resources it takes to investigate, prosecute, and incarcerate such petty offenders.
Some of the clearest historical numbers include the following offenses and the frequency of occurrence:
• After having fallen from 1994 to 1996, misdemeanor court filings in Minneapolis increased through 1998. There were roughly 18,000 misdemeanor filings in 1998. Of the misdemeanor caseload processed by the Hennepin County District Court, 42% are disorderly conduct cases, up from 30% in 1993.
• The “sex offense” category, dominated by “loitering with intent to solicit prostitution” cases, has had the most dramatic increase since 1993 – rising 700%. This coincides with findings at the arrest stage and shows the increased workload pressure placed on the courts as a result of new police policies. Prostitution cases have also risen, although not nearly as dramatically (31% over the same time period).
• Like “sex offenses,” misdemeanor drug abuse violations increased greatly. Comprised mostly of “loitering with intent to sell narcotics,” the number of these cases rose 191%, topping out at 1,005 in 1998 (222 of these involved petty misdemeanor drug abuse cases characterized by “small amount of marijuana” and “drug paraphernalia”).
• Since 1993, decreases in misdemeanor caseloads were found in the categories of domestic assault, simple assault, larceny, forgery / fraud, and possession of stolen property. Vandalism and weapons caseloads remained fairly stable.
Thus, taxpayers around Minnesota – especially in the Minneapolis / St. Paul metro area are paying out high dollar figures to jail individuals accused and/or convicted of such offenses and the courts resources to process such cases (including in cases of people being wrongfully arrested and charged). And although the incarceration lengths are relatively short and time spent and resources used in court may be less than that of serious felonies, it is nonetheless a waste of taxpayer time, money, and resources and could be put to better use.
Another example (in Hennepin County) includes the following:
Arrest Type Number of Arrests
Loitering with intent – Narcotics 1,009
Disorderly Conduct 563
Attempt to Cause Bodily Harm 402
Consuming In Public 349
Weapons Ordinance 295
Drug Paraphernalia 281
Loitering with intent – Prostitution 281
This example is used to show the raw numbers on petty crimes. Can you now imagine the wasted policing, jail, and court resources used up for such petty and insignificant offenses? The only way to change this is to fight back and hold the government responsible.